I sat down to lunch with former President George Washington a few weeks ago, and when I made a comment about the primary author of the Declaration of Independence and one of the most influential Founding Fathers of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, he said "Thomas Who?" I responded: "Oh, you must come from Texas, George."
Washington, played by actor Paul Borrillo, did a little better with the name of James Madison, born today, March 16 (1751). Madison, who escaped the axe of a far-right faction of the Texas State Board of Education when they injected their conservative ideals into social studies, history and economics lessons in Texas has been called the "Father of the Constitution," because he was the principal author of the document.
I was attending a LibertyDay.org luncheon as the guest of Dennis Gallagher, auditor for the city and county of Denver. Gallagher, an educator and scholar, has a deep respect for the Constitution, and carries a copy of both the United States Constitution and Jefferson's Declaration of Independence in his pocket. Thomas Jefferson, the name that cannot be mentioned in Texas, was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776).
Putting the U.S. Constitution into every pocket in the country is the vision of LibertyDay founder Andy McKean and his wife Kathy. Unlike the Tea Party, LibertyDay is not involved in politics. It came into being because of McKean's surprise discovery in 1996, that most 5th grade students he talked to didn't know why America celebrates the Fourth of July.
Over the years, by engaging people across the entire political spectrum, LibertyDay has managed to do what even the President of the United States, Barack Obama, has been unable to do: bring the Democrats and the Republicans together.
For the past 14 years, the organization has accomplished this seemingly impossible task by doing just one thing well. It is a sole-source provider of pocket-sized copies of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, along with educational materials on our nation's founding documents, to schools.
In the process of teaching Americans about the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, LibertyDay has partnered with a number of service clubs and businesses throughout the country. These organizations, in turn, purchase and distribute their materials to schools and school districts in their cities, counties or states. And here is where Texas comes in!
Most recently, LibertyDay brought together an extraordinarily successful partnership in Texas: the Federation of Republican Women and the Federation of Democratic Women. These two groups purchased and distributed the Constitution booklets, Q&A flashcards and Teacher's Packets for their communities to over 25,000 5th graders throughout the state. Bypassing textbooks, the students learned from the original documents themselves what it means to be an American!
NOTE to President Obama: You might schedule time on your calendar next September 17 to teach the Constitution to students at Sasha and Malia's schools.
In fact, given LibertyDay's Texas success story, you might be able to create a bi-partisan movement in Congress where ALL members spend time next September 17 teaching the Constitution to students. This day, first proposed by West Virginia's Senator Robert C. Byrd and turned into law in 2005, requires that "federally funded schools nationwide teach about the U.S. Constitution every September 17," which is the date the Constitution was signed in 1787.
As Benjamin Franklin so wisely reminded: "Citizens of a Country cannot be both ignorant and FREE."
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